Melancholy, slow transformation, and being instead of finding

Today I feel the comfortable melancholy of dissatisfaction. It’s a frequent feeling these days, as if my moods are placed in a Rolodex and each day I take out the one closest to me to wear for the day, and place it in the back at the end of the day to be taken out at a later time. This mood has moved from a category of novelty to normalcy.

Choosing one’s mood isn’t as easy as people sometimes make it out to be. I hear all the time that it’s a choice to be happy, as if happiness and contentment are items to be picked off the shelf at the supermarket. I haven’t found it to be that easy. Perhaps this suggestion is from people who have mastered the art of choosing their thoughts and attitudes after years of practice.

Likewise, I also hear the simplistic idea that suggests changing your routine/life/circumstances in order to deliver different results if you’re dissatisfied with an area of your life. Well, that’s all great and practical, but what if the part of your life that you’re dissatisfied with isn’t a part, but rather the collective condition? And what if it’s not necessarily caused by anything, but simple just is? Sometimes we think that if you’re dissatisfied with a part or whole of your life,the only solution is a drastic change. Practically, though, this rarely works out the way we hope.

So, one is left to be observant, contemplative, and open to changing small parts of life that hopefully eventually lead to a bigger overall transformation. This demands a lot of patience, which is something our culture doesn’t teach us to cultivate. The convenient immediacy of most procurements makes it difficult to accept the things that require time to develop. We don’t see slow transformation. We see the end result far more often than the process. Usually, purchases we make don’t come with a detailed play by play of the object’s history. We don’t see when the object was first thought, its initial planning stages, rough drafts, failed attempts, and tawdry beginnings. We see the finished product. And this doesn’t allow us to appreciate the process (or the end result) as much as we should.  And, wouldn’t you guess…the same goes for life transformations.

As I quickly approach my 24th birthday, I am frequently reminded of the yin that comes with my yang. I have known for a while that an attitude of gratefulness is a quick fix to thoughts like these. But I often feel it’s not enough to simply apply a counter thought of gratitude to whatever insufficiency I feel weighed down by. At which point do I feel like I’ve accomplished something or worked through a thought or feeling and given it a new meaning?

I feel too many people my age aren’t honest with where they’re at in life. We’re always showing off whatever is validating us — our jobs, relationships, trends, hobbies, talent, money, etc. I think I’m just tired of trying to do the same thing, and being honest about that is the first step in developing real connection with people. We all go through periods of trying to find validation in meaningless things, and maybe we need to do that in order to get to the root of what we truly want our lives to reflect.

At the end of the day, our attitudes are a direct reflection of how secure we are with our own meaning. Putting it into things that have the ability to decay probably isn’t the best idea, even though it’s the easiest. And perhaps that’s why there is often an inconsistent attitude amongst young adults — we are constantly wrestling with where to find our meaning, all the while not knowing it’s not something to find, but rather something to be.

This idea was more eloquently said in a recent blog post I read.
Meaning is not something outside of us waiting to be found, it is a product of our proper relationship to our existence, a loving connection to our place, our people, our selves, and the deepest truth we can muster.”

Maybe I’ve been trying to find too many things instead of cultivating what’s already there. Maybe a lot of us have been doing that. And maybe it’s not just me who’s tired of trying to keep up.

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One thought on “Melancholy, slow transformation, and being instead of finding

  1. “Maybe I’ve been trying to find too many things instead of cultivating what’s already there.” You have beautiful thoughts, as always, Jess. I resonate with the idea of meaning and where it comes from. For me, there was a day when a bulb went off: meaning is not going to magically come and find me, and I am not going to magically stumble upon it. If meaning is what my life is lacking, I must find some way to build it into my present, starting with the pieces (and the people) I have to work with.

    Good news: you’ve got great raw materials to start with, i.e. you just as you are. 😉

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